Shamsullah Saeedi Afghanistan 20 July, The eleventh of March is the day of cultural heritage in Afghanistan. Today in Afghanistan we have begun the first chapter of preserving our rich cultural heritage.
We define cultural heritage of properties and objects as all those things that are portable or stable, that express the range of human achievements, have evident cultural, historical, educational, and artistic value and are at least hundred years old.
Cultural heritage also defines much about the cultural, social and ethnic identities of humans. Fortunately, Afghanistan has rich cultural heritage including the Jam minarets, Ghazni minarets, and several minarets of Herat, and Buddhism architecture in Bamiyan.
To the world, the Buddhist architecture in Bamiyan embodies value to many others. The Buddhist architecture in Bamiyan consists of many sculptures. In Bamiyan there were the two Buddhist statues, one of fifty-five and thirty-eight meters in height, that were such remarkable pieces of Buddhist sculpture. When they were destroyed, world reaction was swift to condemn their destruction.
Also when these statues were detonated by the Taliban, the entire village of Bamiyan was also burned by the fire from the detonations. One resident of Bamiyan says: “The Taliban brought trucks of bombs in front of this huge Buddha. I, along with Pakistani and Arabic engineers attached the bomb to different parts of Buddha. When it was finished, we went to adjacent caves of Buddha.
They wished to collapse the entire great cliff of the Buddha during the first attempt. When the bomb exploded only two feet of Buddha were broken. Then, they took us in to the top of the Buddha statue. And from the top of the Buddha we were suspended down in order to place the bomb materials on various parts of Buddha. It took almost twenty-five days of work in order to fully destroy this huge Buddha.
They destroyed the small Buddha very easily because one of the Pakistani engineers discovered an easy technique for destruction. They place the bomb materials under the Buddha. And in one explosion the whole Buddha was destroyed.
When the Buddha collapsed, the engineers took the sculptures from inside the caves and placed them in boxes. And probably these sculptures have been the Bodhisattvas. And eventually these objects were taken to the airport and transferred to foreign countries.” The day that the Buddha collapsed, not only was a statue removed but an entire civilization was destroyed.
These statues were the symbols of culture and civilization. These two statues have drawn the attention of poets, and writers. And poets have written tributes to these Buddhas. Although the Buddhas disappeared, the caves continue to be of great value.
These statues are unique due to their size and detail. These artistic monuments belong to all humans. Because cultural heritage focuses on the integrity of a tradition across generations these Buddhas are part of the rich history of Buddhism. Buddhism dates back 2500 years ago. Beautiful sculptures and paintings have been part of this religion. The founder of Buddhism is Siddharta Gautma Buddha. Buddhism was born and raised in India. In the sixth and seventh century BC Brahmanism incorporated aspects of the Buddhist religion.
Widdayee poets have always been in the background of Buddhism. In the middle of third century Buddhism entered Afghanistan. And then by its emission through the Gandahara zone an artistic school were established. Ashoka and Kanishka played an important role in the spread of Buddhism in Afghanistan.
In Bamiyan, Buddhist followers built statues of enormous height. The statues were constructed in 503 and 554 CE. They withstood the eras of Abdurrahman Khan, the Taliban, Awrangzeb attacks, Islam attacks, and Genghiz khan attacks. Finally on 11 March 2001 they were completely destroyed.